Wearing Earplugs for Riding a Motorcycle
One of the joys of riding a motorcycle is that it’s a sensory experience.
However, when it comes to enjoying the sounds, too much of a good thing can turn it into a bad thing. Unlike a car, a motorcycle has no cabin enclosing us from the multi-dimensional experience of riding, and thus we have less protection from deafening sounds. So how much noise is too much? To put things into perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says workers shouldn't be subjected to more than 85 decibels of sound at the workplace. That's about the equivalent of the noise coming from a power lawn mower or heavy traffic in a big city.
The following chart provides estimates on decibel levels for various environments and sources of noise:
Soft music, leaves rustling, whisper
Ambient home noise
Normal conversation, background music
Office noise, car interior at 60 mph
Vacuum cleaner, average radio
Heavy traffic, power lawn mower, noisy restaurant
Subway, shouted conversations
Portable stereo, ATV, motorcycle
Chainsaw, leaf blower, snowmobile
Sports crowd, music concert
Stock car race
Gun shot, siren
Are Earplugs Safe for Motorcycle Riding?
Earplugs can protect your auditory senses without inhibiting your ability to hear what’s going on around you while you’re riding your motorcycle.
One concern about them, however, is that you wouldn’t be able to hear a car horn or other sounds that you need to be aware of while you’re riding to prevent an accident. That’s not the case. Ear plugs simply dampen noise so that it’s less harmful to your ears.
So what kind of earplugs should you get? It’s a personal choice because you have to find something that’s comfortable, but simple foam earplugs are a good place to start.
Brands like Hearos make disposable and reusable earplugs that mold to your ears for comfort at varying degrees of protection. They cost a bit more than generic earplugs, but they’re worth the investment. Overall, it doesn’t matter what kind you get, but if you care at all about your hearing, always wear ear plugs while riding a motorcycle!